NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS 512 & GeForce 8800 GT 256MB: Playing with Memory and G92by Anand Lal Shimpi on December 11, 2007 12:00 AM EST
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I don't think we've ever had so many competitive graphics cards available in $50 increments of one another. Starting at $179 with the Radeon HD 3850 and now going up to just under $400 with the GeForce 8800 GTS 512, if you have a very specific budget there are plenty of options for a faster graphics card these days.
Honestly, despite the great value from cards like the 8800 GT and the Radeon HD 3800 series, there's still a need for even higher performance GPUs. If you looked at our bar graphs, there are some games where we're still forced to run at Medium Quality settings. Titles like World in Conflict and Crysis simply can't be run at high resolution with full detail settings on even the 8800 GTS 512, at least at reasonable frame rates. We regularly see this seesaw between software and hardware in the 3D gaming space; sometimes our hardware outpaces the software, and other times the software is far ahead of the hardware.
Here's the thing: remember how the 8800 GT came out and made most of NVIDIA's productline obsolete? Well, there's bound to be a G92 based successor to the 8800 Ultra, despite it being faster than the new GTS 512 it's still fundamentally built on old technology and is overdue for a refresh. If you absolutely must have the highest performance and the 8800 GTS 512 won't satisfy you, don't splurge on an 8800 Ultra, we figure you'll regret it within a matter of months. NVIDIA can't go that long without a super expensive graphics card.
Getting back to reality for a moment, what do we think about the 8800 GTS 512 as an overall buy? It's around 10 - 15% faster than the 8800 GT, with a 16% higher price tag (at least). Honestly, in our opinion, GTS 512 just isn't worth the price premium over the 8800 GT 512MB. There's significantly more shader processing power but with barely any more memory bandwidth, this isn't a card that's really any more suited for high resolution/AA performance than the 8800 GT.
It looks like our verdict still stands: if you want one of the best gaming cards on the market today, the 8800 GT 512MB is still our choice. It's more expensive than we'd like, but the 256MB version is a little too slow, and the GTS 512 isn't fast enough. The 8800 GT 512MB is just right.